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Junius Brutus Booth

Junius Brutus Booth

Theatrical Prometheus

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Stephen M. Archer


Paperback (Other formats: Hardcover)
364 pages, 6.125 x 9.25, 36 illustrations


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About the Book

In this, the first thoroughly researched scholarly biography of British actor Junius Brutus Booth, Stephen M. Archer reveals Booth to have been an artist of considerable range and a man of sensitivity and intellect. Archer provides a clear account of Booth’s professional and personal life and places him in relationship to his contemporaries, particularly Edmund Kean and William Charles Macready.

From 1817 to 1852 Junius Brutus Booth toured throughout North America, enjoying a reputation as the most distinguished Shakespearean tragedian on the American continent. Still, he yearned for success on the British stage, a goal he never attained. His public image as a drunken, dangerous lunatic obscured a private life filled with the richness of a close and loyal family.

The worldwide fame assured for the Booth family of actors by John Wilkes Booth’s bone-shattering leap from the President’s box had eluded Junius Brutus Booth throughout his lifelong exile in America. But from that event until today, no American family of actors has stimulated such scrutiny as the Booths.

Eight years of research, pursuing Booth from Amsterdam to San Francisco, has resulted in an accurate, fascinating narrative that both records and illuminates the actor’s life.


Stephen M. Archer is a professor of theatre at the University of Missouri. He is the author of numerous articles about Booth as well as How Theatre Happens and American Actors and Actresses: A Guide to Information Sources.


"If Edmund Kean had been a theatrical Zeus, inventing the fiery passion of romantic acting, Booth functioned in this nation as a Prometheus, spreading the flame far and wide across North America."—Stephen M. Archer, from the Coda